NEW YEAR! - Here's
to an adventure-filled 2009 for all! Thanks to everyone for
reading the site, sending me your comments and suggestions,
participating in the projects and mad ideas here - but most of all,
thanks for gaming, and helping to keep the hobby alive. Keep up the
good work in the coming year!
uploaded a special New Year message at The
Escapistcast, if you would like to give it a listen. Take
yourselves, celebrate responsibly, and let's all look forward to a
Brave New Year!
"GOLD" EPISODE 1 IS LIVE - I'm
a little late on this one due to the holidays, but better late than
never, I always say!
first episode of the Gold web series is
available for your viewing pleasure. You
can see it at www.goldtheseries.com
- and please watch with discretion - the language and situations aren't
exactly kid safe.
next episode premieres on January 23rd, 2009, so keep an eye out for it
- and as always, be sure to let them know The Escapist sent you!
UPDATE ON TWITTER - If
you're a Twitter addict, as I'm sure many of you are, you can now get
Escapist site updates on your Twitter account - just follow RPGadvocate!
REBECCA THOMAS INTERVIEW - Rebecca
Thomas, the creative force behind The Roleplay
Workshop in Oakland, California, was gracious and generous
enough to answer my questions about her roleplaying program
and how it benefits young people in both education and socialization.
AND MAKING NEW GAMERS - I have to admit to
coming pretty late to the Twilight
phenomenon. I hadn't even heard of the books until the movie came out,
and when I asked my kids about it, I got my first dose of "Jeeze Dad,
that's been popular for forever!
Where have you been?"
course, it instantly got me thinking about how the popularity of a new
movie and book series about vampires could bring new roleplayers to the
hobby. And it wasn't long after I started thinking that I spotted this
from City On A Hill Press, which discusses the new vampire craze, and
its connections to tabletop and LARP games based on bloodsuckers:
These games are
referred to as roleplaying games, or live action games,
in which participants create vampiric characters to play out scenarios.
The most popular of these games, “Vampire: The Masquerade,” can either
be played in real time, where participants play out the scenario in
public, or in a private, sit-down setting with dice, much like the ever
notorious “Dungeons and Dragons.” Most seasoned gamers said that the
addition of the vampire archetype makes “Vampire” different from other
fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs) in many fundamental ways.
never one to miss a good opportunity to create
new gamers, and this seems like a good one to me! There is, of course, Vampire: The Requiem
- or if you'd rather go old-school, I'm sure you can find good deals on
the original Vampire:
The Masquerade books on eBay or your local Half Price
Books. But those aren't your only options - there's the Buffy the Vampire Slayer
RPGs, and the anime-styled Cold Hands, Dark Hearts
for the Big Eyes, Small
Mouth RPG - plus a bunch more that I'm sure I've forgotten
running a vampire-themed RPG at your
local game store or library,
and see if you can bring some new gamers to the hobby!
NEED FOR DEFENSE - This question was posed by
Donohoo in the review of this site that he posted to GeekDad recently:
really need to keep explaining that D&D is not satanism, I'm
answer is yes. And here are my two reasons why:
While the negative press against role-playing games has decreased
greatly since the 80s and early 90s, there are still events
show us that myths and superstitions still exist in the minds of some.
A proper knowledge of what RPGs are and how they are played
have prevented all of these situations. Here are just a few examples:
In 2002, the brother of Stephanie Crowe and his friend were found
innocent of her 1998 murder when new evidence linked the crime to
someone else - until that day, the only evidence against the boys was a
coerced confession by police that revealed that both were D&D
players. As one news story put it: "Prosecutors portrayed the slaying
as an open-and-shut case against three boys warped by an unhealthy
passion for dark role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons." (full article)
That same year, the DC Beltway Snipers were incorrectly profiled by
Robert Ressler (a reknowned expert on criminal profiling) as possible D&D
players, based solely on the fact that they left a Tarot card behind at
one of their shootings (even though Tarot and D&D have
practically nothing to do with each other).
- In 2003, Christianity Today's website featured a letter
from a young person who was looking for alternatives to
mainstream RPGs like Dungeons
& Dragons and RIFTS.
The response to the letter featured the apocryphal story of "Steve" and
his downward spiral from mainstream RPGs to "anti-Christian" games, to
pornography. It was a callback to an earlier time, when such horror
stories were rampant, and never confirmed.
- In 2005, a town in
Brazil passed a law banning the sale of RPG books after rumors began to
fly about a possible connection between an RPG and a triple murder case.
It's not just about defending games, but about promoting critical
thinking as well. Just like the age-old concerns about comic books in
the 50s and 60s, the claims about the dangers of D&D
were ridiculous, but at the time, they struck fear into the hearts of
many parents who didn't take the time to think critically on the
subject and explore the truth themselves. The same thing has happened
more recently with the Pokemon
and Harry Potter
crazes - games and books were banned from schools and libraries, and
pastors frothed about them behind pulpits (and even ritually
sacrificed a few, in at least one case).
this site's focus is on the positive promotion of the roleplaying
hobby, I sometimes like to think that encouraging others to be
skeptical in the face of ridiculous
and extraordinary claims
is one of the by-products of the work done here. Hopefully, a time will
come when critical thinking will prevail, and the panics over comic
and Harry Potter
will become a positive lesson to all of us.
GEEKDADS (AND GEEKMOMS)! - Daniel Donahoo has been making
some great posts about roleplaying with kids on the Wired: GeekDad
blog. The most
of the series - and I may be a little biased here - is by far the best.
If you've wandered over here from the GeekDad blog, welcome! And please
let me know what you think of the site -
- The Associated Press released an article on the
importance of play in education that gives a brief mention to fantasy
Paley, a former kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago
Laboratory Schools and now an author and consultant, says the most
vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing
with their peers.
inventing abstract thinking,
before the world tells them what to think," Paley said in her speech to
GAMING DAY A SUCCESS - Jenny at the ALA's News about Games and Gaming
site has issued an early report on the results of National
Gaming Day @ Your Library:
libraries registered to participate
libraries reported results back to us
people participated in NGD at those 597
people played Pictureka!
on Gaming Day
people played Dungeons
& Dragons or Magic: The Gathering
I'd rather they separate D&D
just to get a clearer number that we can try to beat next year. You can
read the full post here,
which includes lots of anecdotes from libraries all over the United
If you participated in National Gaming Day, and ran an RPG for library
patrons, let us know about it! Contact me at
"GOLD" WEB SERIES PREMIERES TODAY - I
mentioned the Gold web series in an update about a month ago, and today I
announcement that the premiere episode, "Prologue: Dark Clouds Gather"
has gone live today. I got to watch a special sneak preview earlier
this week (being the Grand Poo-Bah of The Escapist has some perks, you
know!), and it gave me a few good laughs. It's a strong start for the
speaking of strong, the language isn't kid or work safe, so please
watch with discretion.)
can see it at www.goldtheseries.com
- and if you like it, consider dropping a donation into their tip jar.
They would greatly appreciate it!
11/15/08 IS NATIONAL GAME DAY @ YOUR LIBRARY -
libraries all over the United States will be participating in National
Gaming Day, an effort to raise awareness about the use of games in
library programs, expose people to new kinds of games, and enable
networking between game clubs and libraries.
focus seems to be primarily on video and board games, but Wizards of the Coast
has donated copies of Dungeons & Dragons to
help promote the event. This would be an excellent time to contact your
local library about organizing a roleplaying program - it may be too
late to prepare one in time for Saturday, but most libraries would love
to have volunteers the rest of the year.
ON CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S FUND - More information has begun to come in on
the situation between Gen Con and the Christian Children's Fund - which
is looking more and more like a misunderstanding that anything else.
HALLOWEEN - NOW MAKE SOME GAMERS! - Halloween and
role-playing games have a lot in common. Not only do both involve
pretending to be other people, but both have a reputation for being the
product of dark and sinister forces - when really, they're just about
having harmless fun.
"GOLD" WEB SERIES TO PREMIERE THIS FALL - It
seems like shows,
movies, and short films about RPGs and LARP are popping up
everywhere these days, but the most recent one to cross my radar seems
to have a unique approach. It's a web series called Gold,
that follows the story of four "professional role players" from the
United States who hope to win a world championship.
World Goblins & Gold Role Playing Game Championship is only a
few short weeks away. The perennial second-place American team has
undergone an upheaval: their longtime team leader, Jonathan Drake, has
suffered a tragic gaming-related accident. Maverick player and loose
cannon Richard Wright takes the reigns and tries to wrestle his new
team into shape before the competition, while despondent Jonathan
battles his personal demons. Meanwhile, the World Champion British
team, led by the crafty Oliver Crane and sultry Martha Thistlethwait,
prepare for the Championship by enlisting a gaming legend as their new
the idea of "professional" RPG players is a little bit out there, Gold
does address a very real issue with the future of the hobby:
the two factions battle internal and external strife, another threat
rears its head: despite a fervent European following, in the U.S.,
Goblins & Gold is on the decline. Fewer and fewer players are
picking up the dice in pursuit of this proud but aging sport, opting
instead for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games and the
seductive simplicity of console gaming.
is set to premiere this fall, right here on the
internetstubes, but if you can't wait, you can always watch the trailer
and a teaser
on the Gold
CHILDREN'S FUND REJECTS GENCON DONATION - A $17,398
donation from an auction held at Gen Con 2008 in Gary Gygax's honor was
rejected by the Christian Children's Fund because the donations came
from the sale of Dungeons & Dragons
GAMING ADVOCACY CHAT - The folks
at RPGLife, a
social networking site for roleplayers, have invited me to be a guest
speaker! I'll be participating in a moderated chat session on the site
on October 24th from 8-10pm EST.
sure you don't miss the other
speakers they've scheduled for the month of October - actual
gaming industry people you've heard about, like Ken St. Andre, Chuck
Welon, Eddy Webb, Sean Patrick Fannon, Matt Forbeck, Stan!, and Keith
you haven't joined RPGLife yet, you should - it features exclusive
events, comics, podcasts, articles, maps, miniatures, product reviews,
resource files, a player locator, social groups, members gallery, gamer
blogs, and news aggregated daily. All of this, for the low, low price
NEEDS PLAYTESTERS - Game designer F. Douglas Wall is
looking for people to playtest his upcoming RPG based on L. Frank
Baum's Oz. Since this is a roleplaying game that
would be of particular interest to many young people, I have agreed to
help him find suitable playtesters. If you would like to participate,
you can contact him at konradthebarbarian /at/ yahoo
AS BADD AS IT GETS - Since
the recent discovery of the 60 Minutes
anti-D&D videos generated a bit
of interest, I decided put up something on the site that I have been
thinking about putting up for some time now. It's a booklet from
Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons (B.A.D.D.) that members of
the group would hand out to schools and libraries and churches and
police stations and to whomever else would care to read it.
its pages you will find some classic quote-mining, a comparison of D&D
spells to references in occult and anti-occult
books as well as both the Holy Bible and the Satanic Bible, and a
"Special Center Section" on graveyard desecration, missing children,
Satan worship, and witchcraft.
no date on the booklet, but I would estimate that it was printed and
handed out with passionate fervor sometime around 1984-85, at the
height of B.A.D.D.'s viligant work to keep our young people away from
the evils of twenty-sided dice, graph paper, Mountain Dew, and cheese
it or not, this booklet is part of the history of Dungeons
& Dragons - it was used to keep the game out of
schools and libraries, and was used as "police education" in many
places. 'Cult cops' like Don Rimer continue to use resources like this
booklet to this day when investigating crimes that they believe have
scanned every page and put them up on the site, along with a few
comments and refutations of my own. I'll be adding more of my own
commentary as time goes on, but until then, you can view the entire
booklet here: As BADD As It Gets
ORGANIZED MAKE-BELIEVE - That's the title of a great
article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that focuses on LARP events at
Dexcon, a gaming convention in New Jersey.
hobby even gets a pretty good description, for the benefit of those who
know nothing of LARP:
LARP is like a cross between a Civil War reenactment and the tabletop
game Dungeons and Dragons - picture an episode of Buffy the Vampire
Slayer performed by costumed amateurs without a script. LARPers assume
a character in each LARP they play and dress up in costumes ranging
from the elaborate - like the custom head-plate and shaved eyebrows of
Robert Nolan, 29 - to simple street clothes. LARPs can take place
almost anywhere - in hotel rooms or bars or simply within the players'
interesting to note that LARP can now be explained to the general
public as "like... Dungeons and Dragons." It looks like we may have
passed the point where the concept of a tabletop RPG has to be
explained in an article like this.)
Lizzie Stark goes on to explain the variety of LARP genres,
the use of
boffer weapons in some LARPs, and terms like "one-shot" and "campaign."
She even gives a glimpse into one players' real life pursuits - a
chaplain who works with drug and alcohol addicts.
sort of positive interest piece has become more common over the last
decade or so, and it's nice to see this one in the Philadelphia
Inquirer, which was not very RPG-friendly over a decade ago during the
Caleb Fairley murders.
MINUTES ON D&D - Back
in 1985, the CBS news program 60 Minutes ran a
story on the then-current controversy over Dungeons
& Dragons. It featured interviews with Gary Gygax
and Dieter Sturm from TSR, B.A.D.D. founder Patricia Pulling, and
shamed psychiatrist Thomas Radecki.
caught this episode when it first aired, and I've been trying to get my
hands on a video copy for well over a decade. Now, thanks to YouTube
and James Edward Raggi IV from Lamentations
of a Flame Princess (where I found these videos posted), we
can all enjoy this relic from a darker time, when police were given
seminars on how to handle 'RPG crimes,' towns held meetings on whether
or not their schools should allow a particular game as an activity, and
hardly anyone understood the difference between causation and
the record straight on the claims made in this piece of 'journalism'
would take a lot of effort, and most of it has already been done -
refutations for every negative claim made here can be found either in
the Escapist FAQs, or in Mike
to the ephemeral nature of YouTube, these videos may not stay up for
long. If you've missed them, and really need to see them for a research
project or the like, contact me at
OPEN LETTER TO MICHAEL GOLDFARB - The following is an
open letter to Michael Goldfarb, blogger for the John McCain campaign
here in the United States, and author of both of these comments:
(New York Times)'s editors seem to have all the intelligence and reason
of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's
basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons and
may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to
disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's
basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect
and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others." (source)
unlikely that Mr. Goldfarb would read this message if I sent it to him
directly, given the amount of ire that these statements have stirred up
recently (including an unofficial "Pro-Obama
Dungeons & Dragons Crowd" t-shirt) - and it's just as
unlikely that he will pop on over to this site to read it here - but
there are some things that need to be said in reference to his
comments, and I can't think of a better place to say them.
I begin, I must make it clear that The Escapist does not support any
political candidates, and these comments are only in reference to
statements made about role-playing games, which this site is focused
on. Please don't decide your vote on an issue as trivial as this one,
or any other trivial issue. Go for the big issues instead. And please
vote. Thank you.
reference to your two recent statements about Dungeons
& Dragons players who spend an inordinate amount of
time in their parents' basements, I'd like to help you out with a
misconception that you seem to be shackled to, and I would appreciate
it if you would let the rest of your co-workers know about this as well.
all Dungeons & Dragons players are
confined to basements, parental or otherwise. Many of them play above
ground, in their rec rooms, living rooms, or dining rooms, gathered
around tables rolling dice, moving figures about, telling stories of
grand adventures, and having a great time of it. You might be surprised
to know that people play Dungeons & Dragons
and other roleplaying games away from home, too - in schools,
libraries, and in game stores all over the country, and most of those
games are played above ground as well.
you may never have been aware of, and which may genuinely surprise you,
is that people in the military, stationed at home and abroad, play Dungeons
& Dragons as well. In fact, I would challenge you,
Michael Goldfarb, to name a single U.S. Navy ship that does not
currently have a regular D&D group on it.
I guarantee you that it would take a long time to find one. (You may
wish to read this
article, found on my website, that mentions the benefits of D&D
to sailors on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.)
only that, but service people stationed in Iraq have been known to
partake in the occasional D&D game - in
fact, ZigguratCon, which was possibly the first ever role-playing
convention held in Iraq was held by members of the U.S. Army in 2007, a
"Military D&D Game Day" was held on June
7th of this year, and an organization called the Baghdad Hobby Club
works to get role-playing books and supplies (as well as other hobby
supplies) into the hands of our troops.
very few, if any, of those games are taking place in basements.
fully respect Mr. McCain's military service, and I would appreciate it
if you would give just a fragment of respect to people who simply enjoy
a hobby and aren't really harming anyone.
you for your time,
(gamer, but not a blogger)
CALL FOR HELP - I've had a sudden and unexpected
technical problem that will prevent me from doing podcasts for a while.
I was getting ready to begin recording episode 4, when I discovered
that my headset mic is dead. No amount of cable-switching and
wire-jiggling will bring it back to life. On top of that, our financial
situation isn't allowing us a lot of disposable income for a little
while, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get a new one. So, as much
as I don't like to, I'm biting the bullet and asking for help from my
readers and listeners. Here is my request:
anyone out there has some podcast recording equipment that they no
longer use or would be willing to donate, please contact me - - I'm looking for a good headset mic, something
that will isolate my voice and leave out all of the kid and pet sounds
in the background, but I'm willing to accept anything that will improve
the quality of the show.
that, I am also willing to accept monetary donations. A new headset
runs between $30-40, so if a dozen or so Escapistcast listeners each
pitched in two or three bucks, you'd be listening to a new episode
before you could say "Am I still unconscious?" If even more than that
is received, then that means better equipment, which means a better
sounding show. I will put all donations towards the podcast, but I'll
be happy just to get back to recording again, no matter what. To make a
PayPal donation, look for the PayPal button on the right sidebar of the podcast
an incentive, I'll have a special gift for the first person to make a
donation, and I'll do something special for everyone who makes a
contribution (I'm not exactly sure what it is yet, but I'll think of
something...) Thanks for listening and reading, and I hope to be back
"on the air" soon.
FREE RPG DAY - That's right
folks, today is the second annual Free RPG Day,
when game stores everywhere hand out special role-playing goodies.
Visit your Friendly Local Game Store today and see what they have for
D&D GAME DAY - JUNE 7TH - The fourth edition of
D&D is here, and through some
sort of bizarre coincidence, it is also the fifth Worldwide
Dungeons & Dragons Game Day.
time sure flies. It seems like the last D&D Game Day
was just last November...)
get some gaming buddies together and play some D&D this
weekend - find a
localtion near you that will be running demos of 4e - or play
some 3.5, 2nd edition, or even (gasp!) first edition! Spread the word,
invite non-gamers to try it out, and get some kids involved, too!
DAY! - March 4th (or 'March Fo(u)rth!') is GM's Day,
a holiday organized by the folks at EN World to
recognize the efforts of RPG gamemasters everywhere.
do something nice for
your GMs tomorrow. It doesn't have to be something material - you could
send a grateful email, card, or phone call, offer to help out at the
next game, or anything else to let them know how much you appreciate
all of the time and effort they put into your entertainment.
SOON, THE ESCAPISTCAST!
- I have been knocking around the idea of doing
an Escapist podcast for a couple of years now (because I don't
have NEARLY enough on my plate as it is...), and I think the time as
So, consider this the official announcement - keep your eyes and ears
peeled for The
Escapistcast, coming soon!
FACEBOOK ESCAPIST GROUP - If you're a Facebook member,
consider joining the Escapist
Roleplaying Advocacy Group to get site updates, join in
discussions, or just leave some graffiti on the wall! Hope to
see you there!
ONE, EPISODE THREE - The
globally anticipated third episode of the Square One podcast is finally
up and ready to enjoy! This episode is all about creating characters,
which is why it is titled "Creating characters (and giving
One is a podcast devoted to helping new gamers discover all of the
great things about the hobby. If you know someone who is thinking about
giving RPGs a try, let them know about the podcast! You can listen and
subscribe at www.squareonepodcast.com
"GOTH BONNIE AND CLYDE" FAIL THEIR SNEAK CHECKS - A young
couple from Cleveland, Ohio dubbed the "Goth Bonnie and Clyde," were
arrested for the theft of nearly 8.5 million dollars in cash and checks
from the armored car company where one of them worked. Roger
Dillon and Nicole Boyd staged the ill-planned heist to escape their
poor financial situation and give themselves a better life.
True-crime websites and other media outlets have dubbed the pair with
the "Goth Bonnie and Clyde" moniker due to their love of vampire novels
and Dungeons &
Dragons. Few, if any, have tried to make the
connection between gaming and the crime, other than to mention that the
couple were known for having their heads in the clouds.
The two face up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if